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Pop-up Cycle Lanes Provide a Greater Sense of Safety

Joint press release of TU Berlin and IASS Potsdam | sn

The Covid-19 pandemic has also had an influence on mobility. In response to the situation, pop-up cycle lanes have begun to appear in Berlin, providing safe cycling and enabling the required distancing regulations to be observed. But how are people responding to these pop-up cycle lanes? A first, provisional answer to this question is provided by the results of a non-representative online survey of 1,661 Berliners conducted by researchers at TU Berlin’s Institute of Vocational Education and Work Studies and the IASS Potsdam.

The online survey also reveals a reduction in the use of local public transport: Prior to the crisis, 76 percent of those surveyed used bus, tram or train at least once a week. During the period of the survey, this had fallen to just 23 percent.

Use of cars has hardly altered: Prior to the crisis, 26 percent of respondents used their own car at least once a week compared to 28 percent for the period covered by the survey. A high proportion of those completing the survey in full (76 percent) had used their bicycle at least once a week prior to the coronavirus. For the period covered by the survey, this had risen to 84 percent.

Respondents most in favor of the measure

Not surprisingly, greatest acceptance for the pop-up cycle lanes was among cyclists at 94 percent. A somewhat lower but still largely positive response was found among users of local public transport (79 percent) and pedestrians (75 percent). There was a clearly negative reaction among motorists, only 11 percent of whom were in favor of the new cycle lanes.

The vast majority (78.1 percent) of those in favor currently use the pop-up cycle lanes, with the remaining 21.9 percent not currently using them. The majority reported feeling considerably safer, both in terms of traffic safety and the risk of being infected with coronavirus. They stated that it is possible to maintain sufficient distance to cars and to other cyclists. Specific mention was made of a reduced likelihood of accidents such as those occurring as a result of dooring, where cyclists are hit by opening car doors, often sustaining severe injuries. A subjective feeling of safety and “traveling without fear” was also reported. Respondents observed less cyclists using sidewalks and less pedestrians on cycle lanes, another positive development. These answers show that achieving safety is an important factor in increasing the use of bicycles and persuading various population groups to switch to cycling. Those surveyed complained of the aggressive behavior of motorists. This has increased as a result of the pop-up cycle lanes. Motorists use them to drive and park their cars. It is feared that this problem will persist as the redistribution of road space could lead to an increase in traffic congestion.

Respondents least in favor of the measure

90.8 percent of those opposed to the pop-up cycle lanes do not currently use them, while 9.2 percent stated that they do. One of the key disadvantages according to opponents of the pop-up lanes is that they restrict other forms of transport. It was often reported that there is less space for not only cars but also local public transport vehicles, BSR cleaning department vehicles, ambulances and delivery vehicles. Some respondents also expressed a fear that the reduced space for cars might result in more traffic congestion, particularly as the economy begins to power up as the coronavirus restrictions are relaxed. Congestion and slow-moving traffic could lead to an increase in pollutant load.

Some respondents stated that they consider the pop-up cycle lanes dangerous, giving rise at times to confusing situations and blind corners or dangerous situations when turning. Others criticized the lack of use of the cycle lanes and some were concerned that the use of the lanes would very quickly go down in poor weather conditions.

The survey ran from 30 April until 10 May 2020. A total of 2,578 persons took part in the survey; 1,802 completed the survey in full, of whom 1,661 were from Berlin. The sample is not a random sample and is not representative of the population in Berlin. As such, the descriptive results presented here cannot be used to draw direct conclusions about the views of the entire population of the city. It is also important to bear in mind that cyclists are very heavily represented in the sample.

Further information


Matthias Tang
Press and Communication
Institute for Advanced Sustainability Studies e.V. (IASS)
Berliner Straße 130, 14467 Potsdam
Phone: +49 (0)331 288 22-340
Email: media(at)



pop-up cycle lane © Felix Noak